Education for "Pleasure" or a Career in EcoTourism
The range of qualifications you can do is enormous so be sure of your abilities / aptitude for the career path that you have chosen before selecting a course or qualification. Don't settle for second best; you are choosing a career that you may spend the rest of your life in! You will need plenty of spare time, dedication and money for the course fees before you can begin to to study full time.
Most part-time courses are less expensive and more suitable for those who need work while they study. Part-time study needs much more dedication as you will need to study when you least feel like it, after work or when your other friends are going out. If you have the choice, try and get a job that will improve your practical skills / knowledge for the career choice that you have chosen. Don't miss a chance to learn more from fellow colleagues by being too full of yourself or too proud to make a fool of yourself. Learning about nature is a long adventurous journey that is at times rather daunting. Persevere! Trust me it is worth it in the long run!
Lots of money is not what you'll get in most EcoTravel Industry careers! Job satisfaction while working in idyllic locations is part of your salary! Salaries range between R650 (minimum wage) to R5,000 per month plus tips. Dare I say it...tips from tourists can sometimes add up to a tidy sum though! I hear it is possible to get tips as high as R20,000 per month! Wow! Yet a more likely range is R2,000 to R4,000 per month even at a top end lodge. For those in the field however...nature doesn't have much time for money, so I am afraid no monetary tips for you guys...just many memories I suppose!
For guiding you will need to register as a guide with your Provincial Tourism Authority. You Guide ID card will be issued if you have qualifications that comply with the new National Qualifications Framework.
Definitions of guiding qualifications:
(An SKS qualification would be on a par with Trail Leader; while a Trail Assistant may not lead a trail in country with dangerous game, a FGASA-registered Level 3 Field Guide can and does lead trails.)
Other guiding and safari names:
There are three associations that accredit courses for trainers of guides who would like to make a career in the bush (sometimes also operating in other biomes, such as desert or mountain regions). All of these associations subscribe to the need for setting high standards - to deliver a quality product to tourists, and to rid the industry of "fly-by-nights".
The Field Guides
Association of South Africa (FGASA)
For affiliated trainers see the Eco-Education Resources list block on this page.
Guides Association (WGA)
Visit the tree of wisdom Introduction to South Africa pages